اکثر (Aksar: Often)

I find myself being pushed out of sleep, deep at night,

A faint cry of time, an abandoned dream, a lost star.

Pulling the quilt over my head, I remind myself to breathe,

In ones, twos and threes.

One

A song I learnt long back, a decade and a half between the times,

The rhythm and words difficult to roll over my tongue,

A particular antara always managed to throw me off,

When I sang, I ran out of breath midway.

Every night I listened to my music teacher sing, on a cassette, in an old walkman,

Rewinding the tape with my fingers and letting the shruti flow.

Late one night at the ninth attempt, I figured her trick.

One sharp breath in the beginning and to pause at the right places,

The music magically took over, and she let her heart sing.

When I feel overwhelmed, I sing this song, to breathe easier.

Two

A few years back while studying I realised that no amount of cramming could help me,

The concepts flew over my head and all I wanted to do was, raise my hands and walk away.

Which is what I did.

I shut the books, made myself a tall glass of chai and looked out of the balcony,

Watched the traffic make its way through the narrow arterial lane,

Tiny marigold flowers, bright orange and yellow resting against the lazy creepers,

The sun set in all its glory, calling the birds and bread winners alike.

And for once, in a long time I slept, for fourteen hours straight.

I woke up in the morning and thought to myself, what was the worse that would happen if I fail?

I walked out in the balcony with the question, to breathe in some air and sunshine, and the question answered itself,

Nothing.

A moment of surreal clarity amidst chaos.

Three

There was a time when the pain was much to bear,

I can’t quantify the time, sometimes it seems like yesterday and during others, a previous lifetime,

One that reddened my eyes, choked my throat, brought tears and anger bubbling right beneath my skin.

Everytime I felt I couldn’t, I would remind myself to breathe and repeat,

This too shall pass.

A stab turned to sear, slowly became a dull throb and now is blue and numb.

And that’s okay, for maybe time heals all.

 

 

Translation

Last week I was in another city, much different than the place where I live in. Truth be told most cities are the same, -ish maybe. The same wide long roads, a bunch of malls stacked together with the high end brands sporting massive billboards, in all colours plain, simple text and a woman looking into the distance, crowded railway stations and one massive university campus.

But last week took me to heaven and back, I stayed at the home of a complete stranger, 4 girls shared a flat and I, a day and a half. For the first time in weeks managed to wake up without the innate dread of reading the same books, instead I woke up to a cup of hot chai, warmer conversations, buttered garlic bread and the comfort of a bed, blanket and cold marble tiles.

Dragging myself awake, I spent the day watching sex and the city, its brilliance and relevance, of how a decade and a half later too these women are ones that I have always loved, cried when they did, laughed along and ooh-ed and aah-ed over cosmopolitans and sex. Gobbled down a plate of hot maggi for lunch, took a nice long warm bath, and went out for a walk in the neighbourhood complex. Followed by salt, lime and green apple vodka, dinner and stories, the next day’s headache hangover of hurrying for a train, dashing through the platform like a headless chicken and finding myself back with Jem and Scout of, ‘To kill a mockingbird’.

On some streets you never walk the entire way, like bookmarks, dog eared pages, memories of a favorite dress on a good day hanging in your closet, or that tiny divine amount of body mist that still lies at the bottom of a bottle, living another day, waiting to take you back in time.

On the streets of Pune, I resisted myself from walking up the hill road, those long broad streets with ice cream parlors and restaurants lining it and watched the road curve and disappear, book marking it to make sure I come back, another day and walk the stretch. The chill in the air, scoops of swiss chocolate icecream, a borrowed red windbreaker, rumi’s poems and incomplete love stories.

Leaving tiny crumbles of my heart along the way I hope to find my way back, in the maze of lanes that cross a railway crossing and walk right into a vegetable market, the familiar sounds, rishkas on the street and mouth-watering beguni in Calcutta, Of a road that boasts shops and cars alike yet turns a corner into the Sunday second hand book market in Hyderabad, Of massive fields of green, a lake or two, bridges, towns and people speeding away as the train runs on clock, sharing seats with toddlers who have taken a fancy to my white hair clip, PhD students poring over their research papers, absent minded baritone singers, loud debates on politics and Bollywood over dip chai and lays.

Just when you think you have found yourself, you bump into another part of your being that you never knew existed, in new friends, places, winding roads, strangers, that makes me wonder.

Do you get lost or found in translation?

20 seconds

It is said that all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage, literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery to turn the tide.

There are days when you hate your job, hate your boss, that nosy colleague, that whirlpool of an unrequited love, of the inability to resist the tub of chocolate ice cream resting on the top berth of the fridge, a sudden torrential downpour, the traffic, everything and anything.

Stop. Pause. Breathe. Listen.

Listen to that one tiny voice inside, one that doesn’t need words. Listen to what your heart craves, makes your soul dance, lets light into the tiny cracks of your heart, and makes you go giddy with joy like a five year old in a candy store.

Chase. Follow. Run. Jump.

When did we grow so old that we stopped dreaming? Dreaming about opening a tiny chai shop atop the mountains; having conversations with forgotten old friends over endless cups of coffee and steaming hot maggi; scribbling roads with crayons, blue, pink and purple; of the freedom of jumping into trains and exploring less traveled roads; the cold gush of wind at the top of a hill after hours of trekking; dipping your fingers in bottles of paint and creating masterpieces; bottling fireflies and chasing butterflies and rainbows; dancing in the rain.

Somewhere along the way as we grew up, all of us seem to have made a pact with the devil. Exchange our soul in return for practicality. Of technicolour dreams for sitting in a cubicle, crunching numbers on computers and calculators.

We build CVs but burn bridges; stare at our phones, tablets, kindles but forget the feel and smell of a second hand book; Collect travel magazines but don’t have the time to explore your own city, its forgotten lanes, abandoned buildings, old walls with pink bougainvillea.

20 seconds is all it takes.

To decide to set your soul free from the shackles of the daily grind, the same old job, dust those forgotten ambitions that have been shoved in some corner of your heart collecting cobwebs.

To ease the pain of your heart by burning those unsent letters to a love long lost, deleting them from your life, and let time heal your wounds. Bare your scars and let your heart fall in love, again.

To use your weekends for rediscovering abandoned hobbies, be it cooking up a storm and burning down the kitchen, let your palms bear ink stains of your words, strum your out of tune guitar, delve your city till you are left with purple shoe bites, dance, swirl and twirl.

Stumble. Grumble. Tumble. Crumple.

The first step is always the hardest. Listening to your heart is no doubt a herculean task, after drowning its voice for so many years amidst comparison with the lives of others, pay packages, jealousy, you may be unsure if it still talks to you. Have faith, for every ounce of sadness, there is happiness and dreams are lurking just around the bend. Start small, baby steps.

Fall. Break. Crib. Try.

This year be more, do more. Let the race be for the rats. Laugh a little louder, take absurd risks, do batshit crazy things, wake up with the most insane hangover, lug your own problems, stop and help another with a shoulder or an empathetic ear.

So take that leap of faith, or squeeze your eyes shut, be insanely brave for 20 seconds and jump into your dreams, and who knows of what wings you’ll grow and soar into the skies.


This is an article I had written for an online magazine, rose alley. Here you’ll find articles about love, life, its colors and flavors, some pertinent to women, others that will open your eyes. It’s an open platform to share your ideas by contributing articles, do check it out!

 

Machine

“So, how do you do it?” I asked.

He cupped his kulhar and gazed at me, gazed and not looked because it felt like he could see right through me, as if my physical presence ceased to exist. Taking a deep breathe, he tapped his fingers, picking and arranging words out of the countless ones floating around, and answered.

“What I do doesn’t really require talent, on the other hand most of the greats weren’t talented as much as they were determined, though patience and passion do play a role. Think of yourself as a well-oiled machine, one capable of doing anything and everything possible, provided the right instructions are given.”

Slowly sipping, he continued, “Have 3 ground rules – If and when you get stuck, give yourself two choices only, and choose the uncertain one; breathe, feel your pulse, climb one step each day; And once a week walk barefoot on grass, shout out your angst and dance.”

He paused, gulped the rest of his chai, glanced at his watch and got up from the rickety bench. Pursing his lips into a smile, “There, you are set for success. Follow the rules like a machine, don’t rust and when you feel overworked, leave things to sort themselves.”

Shooting a quick wave to the chaiwallah, I watched him walk into the pouring rain. His blue shirt and khaki trousers drenched and turned grey like the clouds, seemingly disappearing into oblivion.

I stay back, devouring my chai and his words.

Someday

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Someday, lets sit and chat,

Over a glass of chai maybe?

 

On all the trivial and non trivial things,

The happiness, fun and love,

And the pain, sorrow and sadness of life,

While watching the hands of the clock melt away.

 

Of how we don’t need picturesque locations,

Or a vacation to enjoy the sunrise.

 

To share a few stories of our lives,

Under the cool shade of the trees.

 

Or to sit in silence for a while,

And listen to the distant laughter of the children playing,

Of the sound of water hitting against the rocky shore,

And the innumerable birds and crickets.


 

Last sunday I spent a few hours with myself, walking at my own pace and watching the world rush by.

Here is where I sat for a while and let the noise in my head just be, not to sort things out, but to accept the madness the way it is! 🙂

 

Ma

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I was nominated by Saya for writing a tale on love. Though evidently I didn’t follow the rules (as usual 😛 😀 , Sorry!! ), I decided to visit the basics of love.

The person who taught us how to love and loved us before we even knew what love was – Ma.

Short Stories – 3

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final ss3


This is the 3rd part in my attempt to write a few short stories, you can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

This edition of the short stories will probably be the closest to my heart, after many a days did I go to a movie theater and cried during the end of a movie, got drenched in the rain, sketched to my heart’s content, all in a single day and when I sat down to write, the words just came to me. I have no clue if they are good but definitely they made me smile 🙂

Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome! 🙂